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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

February 2015

By Faith, Sheer Grace…

The wonderful, saving, forgiving, and sheer grace of God is available to us all, to all people in every place through faith in Jesus Christ.  All sins are forgiven in Jesus.  Give thanks for a fresh beginning today.  Share God’s grace this day.

Q59. What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

  1. In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.1                                                                                                                                 1 John 3:36; Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1, 2.

Q60. How are you right with God?

  1. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.1  Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them,2 and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,3 nevertheless, without my deserving it at all,4 out of sheer grace,5 God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,6 as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.7  All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.8

1 Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:8-11.  2 Rom. 3:9, 10.  3 Rom. 7:23.           4 Tit. 3:4, 5.   5 Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8.  6 Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1, 2.  7 Rom. 4:24, 25; 2 Cor. 5:21.

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A blessing that no one can take from you

The thought of death is something that makes people nervous, paralyzes them to the point where nobody speaks about it, we avoid talking or thinking about it. As Christians we are to find comfort and a certain peace in knowing that there is life after death, and that everlasting life is a joyous reunion with our savior.

While it is somehow easy for us to avoid speaking about death, we should be encouraging each other in our daily faith, reminding one another that our life is in God’s hands and that is a blessing that no one can take away from us.

Be Blessed,

Bo M.

Q57. How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you?

A. Not only my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head,1 but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ, will be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.2

1 Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23.

2 1 Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2.

Q58. How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you?

A. Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,1 so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no man has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.2

1 Rom. 14:17.

2 John 17:3; 1 Cor. 2:9.

apostles creed

We, on occasion, recite the Apostles’ Creed in our worship services.  Inevitably, over the years, every now and then, somehow the “c” in catholic church gets capitalized in the overhead screens – sometimes because of a computer’s ability to correct our spelling.  In the Apostles’ Creed and in the Heidelberg Catechism, the “c” in catholic is NOT capitalized because this is not the Roman Catholic church.  The reference here is to the universal church – all churches – the church of Jesus Christ…not Presbyterian or Methodist or Episcopalian, etc…universal…all of us…united in faith…”united in true faith” as the catechism states…the church of Jesus Christ…all of Christ’s church as “living members”.

Q54. What do you believe concerning the “holy catholic Church”?

A.  I believe that the Son of God, through His Spirit and Word,1 out of the entire human race,2 from the beginning of the world to its end,3 gathers, protects, and preserves for Himself a community chosen for eternal life4 and united in true faith.5 And of this community I am6 and always will be7 a living member.

1 John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18.

2 Gen. 26:3b, 4; Rev. 5:9.

3 Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26.

4 Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14.

5 Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6.

6 1 John 3:14, 19-21.

7 John 10:27, 28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5.

Q55. What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?

A.  First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all His treasures and gifts.1  Second, that each member should consider it his duty to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.2

1 Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12, 13; 1 John 1:3.

2 Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8.

Q56. What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?

A.  I believe that God, because of Christ’s atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins1 nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life.2  Rather, in His grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.3

1 Ps. 103:3, 4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18, 19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2.

2 Rom. 7:21-25.

3 John 3:17, 18; Rom. 8:1, 2.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, for me at least, is very mysterious and hard to comprehend. What is the Holy Spirit? Where is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? For as long as I can remember, I have learned about the Trinity, God is three in one. Part of that triumvirate is the Holy Spirit.

So who/what is the Holy Spirit? It reminds me a bit of cartoons when the character has the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other shoulder. One politicking for the character to make good choices; the other conniving to get the character to make a poor choice. I think of the Holy Spirit as that good side of our conscience, the angel on the one shoulder, the voice of God speaking into my thoughts and heart. I’m sure we all experience this on a regular basis if we choose to listen.

Sometimes, we hear the Holy Spirit through someone else working as His agent. It happened again to me very recently when I was asked about joining some of the men from our church in forming a men’s Bible study group. On that particular day, I hadn’t set out to add one more thing to my schedule. But I was interested in checking it out. We met this past Sunday for the first time, and going into it, I didn’t know what to expect. But I was still moved to be a part of it. Now, after having met for the first time, and I know that I am looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

At a time when I need faith the most, and at a time when my faith has been wavering due to just a large number of things, I think a group of people based in my church family is just what I need. I believe the Holy Spirit brought all of this together for me, and for the rest of this group, so we can all learn from each other and grow together. By the way, next meeting is Saturday at 7 a.m. in the Fireside Room, to any men who want to join. No obligations, no preparation, no worries, no judging of your Biblical knowledge.

Matt Blaser

Q53. What do you believe concerning “the Holy Spirit”?

  1. First, He as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God.1   Second, He has been given to me personally,2  so that, by true faith, He makes me share in Christ and all His blessings,3  comforts me,4  and remains with me forever.5

Gen. 1:1, 2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3, 4.

1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; Gal. 4:6.

Gal. 3:14.

John 15:26; Acts 9:31.

John 14:16, 17; 1 Pet. 4:14.

Coming Soon

Answer 52 is fantastic. The world is a hard place but answer 52 reminds us that we haven’t been abandoned.  Christ will return and set the world right.  Give thanks this morning; He’s coming again.

Q & A 50
Q.Why the next words:
“and is seated at the right hand of God”?

A.Because Christ ascended to heaven
to show there that he is head of his church,1 the one through whom the Father rules all things.2

1 Eph. 1:20-23Col. 1:18
2 Matt. 28:18John 5:22-23

Q & A 51
Q.How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?

A.First, through his Holy Spirit he pours out gifts from heaven upon us his members.1 Second, by his power he defends us and keeps us safe from all enemies.2

1 Acts 2:33Eph. 4:7-12
2 Ps. 110:1-2John 10:27-30Rev. 19:11-16

Q & A 52

Q.How does Christ’s return
“to judge the living and the dead”
comfort you?

A.In all distress and persecution,
with uplifted head,
I confidently await the very judge who has already offered himself to the judgment of God in my place and removed the whole curse from me.1
Christ will cast all his enemies and mine into everlasting condemnation,
but will take me and all his chosen ones
to himself into the joy and glory of heaven.2

1 Luke 21:28Rom. 8:22-25Phil. 3:20-21Tit. 2:13-14
2 Matt. 25:31-462 Thess. 1:6-10

Who are you For?

Unknown

Is there anywhere or any place we can go that will separate from the presence of Jesus and the love of God?  There is not.  Jesus has promised to be with his disciples until the end of time and that means us too.  Through the Holy Spirit given to every follower of Christ we have the presence of Jesus, God with us;…with us.

Give thanks this day for the Ascension of Jesus into heaven for he is able to be present with us wherever life’s journeys may take us.  More than that, Jesus died for us, was raised for us, is at the right hand of God for us, and prays for us.  Jesus is For Us!  In light of that: Who will you be for today?  What will you be for today?

Q46. What do you mean by saying “He ascended into heaven”?

  1. That Christ, while His disciples watched, was lifted up from the earth into heaven1 and will be there for our good2 until He comes again to judge the living and the dead.3                                                                                                                                                                                         1 Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9-11.  2 Rom. 8:34; Eph. 4:8-10;  Heb. 7:23-25; 9:24.                3 Acts 1:11.

Q47. But isn’t Christ with us until the end of the world as He promised us?1

  1. Christ is true man and true God. In His human nature Christ is not now on earth;2 but in His divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit He is not absent from us for a moment.3                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Matt. 28:20.   2 Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21.    3 Matt. 28:18-20; John 14:16-19.

Q48. If His humanity is not present wherever His divinity is, then aren’t the two natures of Christ separated from each other?

  1. Certainly not. Since divinity is not limited and is present everywhere,1 it is evident that Christ’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of the humanity He has taken on, but at the same time His divinity is in and remains personally united to His humanity.2                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Jer. 23:23, 24; Acts 7:48, 49 (Isa. 66:1).   2 John 1:14; 3:13; Col. 2:9.

Q49. How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit us?

  1. First, He pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of His Father.1 Second, we have our own flesh in heaven— a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, His members, to Himself in heaven.2 Third, He sends His Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee.3 By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.4                                   1 Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1.  2 John 14:2; 17:24; Eph. 2:4-6.                                                3 John 14:16;  2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5.   4 Col. 3:1-4.

images-2

Atonement…

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Theologians for centuries have argued over the many theories of atonement – Jesus dying a horrible death on the cross to account for the sin of the world…substitutionary atonement, moral influence theory, Christus Victor…  Today’s HC Q/A’s place all of this in a more fundamental perspective I think.  Remember…all of this is in a creed of the Church, The Apostles’ Creed, one which many can recite from memory…But, sometimes, our recitation can be rote – routine, mechanical, without thought of the meaning – in today’s 5 questions we see that what Jesus did for us is anything but routine – think about the “why” and then remember…“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Q40. Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?

A.  Because God’s justice and truth demand it:1 only the death of God’s Son could pay for our sin.2

1 Gen. 2:17.

2 Rom 8:3, 4; Phil 2:8; Heb. 2:9.

Q41. Why was He “buried”?

A.  His burial testifies that He really died.1

1 Isa. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4.

Q42. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

A.  Our death does not pay the debt of our sins.1 Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.2

1 Ps. 49:7.

2 John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:9, 10.

Q43. What further advantage do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?

A.  Through Christ’s death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with Him,1 so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us,2 but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to Him.3

1 Rom. 6:5-11; Col. 2:11, 12.

2 Rom. 6:12-14.

3 Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1, 2.

Q44. Why does the creed add: “He descended into hell”?

A.  To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation that Christ my Lord, by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul, especially on the cross but also earlier, has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.1

1 Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45, 46; Luke 22:44; Heb. 5:7-10.

Suffered and Died…

Cross

If any think there is doubt about whether Jesus suffered and died, you need only read Mark 15:34…“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Even the strongest of men would not have made it to the cross – most would have died in the torture Jesus endured prior let alone the brutality of the Roman crucifixion process.

But Jesus is no ordinary man…remember all the passages on his foretelling of his death on this earth, especially John 10:17-18, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”  Sisters and brothers…Jesus suffered and died…for us…but Jesus was not a helpless pawn on history’s chessboard.

Q37. What do you understand by the word “suffered”?

A.  That during His whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race.1 This He did in order that, by His suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,2 He might set us free, body and soul, from eternal condemnation,3 and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.4

1 Isa. 53; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18.

2 Rom. 3:25; Heb. 10:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.

3 Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13.

4 John 3:16; Rom. 3:24-26.

Q38. Why did He suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?

A.  So that He, though innocent, might be condemned by a civil judge,1 and so free us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.2

1 Luke 23:13-24; John 19:4, 12-16.

2 Isa. 53:4, 5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13.

Q39. Is it significant that He was “crucified” instead of dying some other way?

A.  Yes. This death convinces me that He shouldered the curse which lay on me, since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.1

1 Gal. 3:10-13 (Deut. 21:23).

Two Months Late

These passages are Christmas all over again.  Why is the incarnation so crucial?  If there is no Christ coming in flesh, there is no forgiveness of sin.  Read on Saints, and thank God for what He’s done:


Q. What does it mean that he “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary”?
A. That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God,1 took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit,2 from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,3 a truly human nature so that he might also become David’s true descendant,4 like his brothers and sisters in every way5 except for sin.6

1 John 1:1; 10:30-36; Acts 13:33 (Ps. 2:7); Col. 1:15-17; 1 John 5:20
2 Luke 1:35
3 Matt. 1:18-23; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 2:14
4 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 132:11; Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3
5 Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:17
6 Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27

Q&A 36
Q. How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?
A. He is our mediator1 and, in God’s sight, he covers with his innocence and perfect holiness my sinfulness in which I was conceived.2

1 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 9:13-15
2 Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19

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